10,000 Hours

I just picked up Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and I love it already. I love it when anyone can make me see anything in a different way. I love when people uncover things that are right in front of us, simply by asking the right questions.

Chapter Two is all about the “10,000 Hour Rule,” which has been proven over and over again to be the magical amount of time one needs to practice something in order to master it. (practice meaning “purposefully and single-mindedly” doing the thing “with the intent to get better.”) In one particular study of a group of top violinists, it was discovered that there were NO “naturals”  – people who had gone effortlessly to the top while practicing much less than their peers – and NO “grinds” – people who worked harder than everyone else but still didn’t make top ranks.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard something similar. Poet Peter Rabbit once said that you have to write for 10 years before you can call yourself a writer. 10 years at 20 hours of practice per week (or 20 years at 10 hours per week) equals 10,000 hours.

I’ve often wondered why I felt “mediocre” in a lot of things and master of little. It’s likely that I’ve flitted around doing so many different things. There is a lot to be said for focus.

I realized recently that I’ve had my 10,000 hours of poetry. Would I call myself a master? I’m not sure. I’m definitely more confident about my poetry than any other form of writing. Screenwriting would come next, then novel writing.

Is there anything you have done for 10,000 hours?  Do you consider yourself a master?

(hey, I just realized… I’ve had over 10,000 hours of sleep!  Am I a dream-master now?)


  1. Paul
    Mar 19, 2009

    “Is there anything you have done for 10,000 hours?”
    Hmm, so many opportunities for a rude joke. I’ve spent way more than 10,000 hours reading.

  2. openchannel
    Mar 19, 2009

    You would turn this into a brothel, mister.

    Actually, I believed I have loved for 10,000 hours. I must be a master of love by now. 🙂

    Oh, yes, and reading, 10,000 for sure.

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